Thursday, September 28, 2006

Priesthood of the Believer: Spurgeon vs. The Founders

In this article, Tom Ascol's differences with Charles Spurgeon are again noted by Brother Bob Ross.

I'm amazed that Founders Ministries (yes, they really believe what they are doing is a ministry) continues to put Spurgeon's picture on their blog.



Bob to Charles:

Seems as if, Charles, every time Tom Ascol of the Founders comments on something, it conflicts with C. H. Spurgeon -- despite the fact that Spurgeon's picture is used on the front page of Tom's blog.

Now Tom is complaining against the "priesthood of the believer" as it was held by Spurgeon.

Tom says:

Regarding the theological imprecision, I find it ironic that the self-styled heirs of the conservative resurgence have actually taken up the language of the moderate resistance by affirming the "priesthood of the believer." No individual believer consitutes a whole priesthood. The individualistic and subjectivistic spin that the moderates put on the reformation principle of the priesthood of all believers resulted in the perversion of this precious doctrine into little more than the adage that "every tub sits on its own bottom." It is a little like advocating the "communion of the saint."
9/28/2006 09:00:00 AM

Contrast Tom Ascol's position on the priesthood of believers with that of C. H. Spurgeon:

Every man that believes in Jesus Christ is from that moment a priest, though he be neither shaven nor shorn, nor bedecked in peculiar array. To the true believer his common garments are vestments, every meal is a sacrament, every act is a sacrifice. If we live as we should live, our houses are temples, our hearts are altars, our lives are an oblation. The bells upon our horses are holiness unto the Lord, and our common pots are as the bowls before the altar.
SEPTEMBER 2ND, 1883, BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT EXETER-HALL on the text: “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”- Revelation 1:5 6


Spurgeon again:

Christ has made every one of his people a priest, and every child of God is as much a priest as I am; and I am a priest certainly, a priest unto God to offer the spiritual sacrifice of prayer, and praise, and the ministry of the Word. But here is the peculiar joy of all Christians, that God has made them priests. If they do not use their priesthood here, I am afraid that they will never be able to use their priesthood before the throne of God with their fellow-priests. This is the melody of the heavenly song, “Washed in the precious blood, redeemed by that matchless price, we are now made unto our God kings and priests.” Even on earth each saint can sing, —

Poor Tom! It seems he has such a hard time agreeing with Spurgeon on anything!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Statistics: Spurgeon vs. The Founders

Brother Bob Ross has hit another one out of the ball park.

Over and over again on this blog, and on his email list, Brother Bob has demonstrated substantial theological differences between the famed English "prince of preachers," Charles Spurgeon, and The Founders, a small band of Southern Baptist preachers who believe it's their duty to spread hybrid/hyper/neo/extreme Calvinism throughout the Southern Baptist Convention.

The Founders misrepresentation continues. They have the gall to place a picture of Charles Spurgeon on their blog and then, as Brother Bob reveals in this article, to oppose the very practices that Spurgeon promoted.

Their latest tirade is an attack on reporting baptisms via the Annual Church Profile, a reporting tool used throughout the Southern Baptist Convention. Spurgeon had no objection to reporting his baptisms, saying, "It has been noticed that those who object to the process are often brethren whose unsatisfactory reports should somewhat humiliate them." The brethren in Spurgeon's day could attempt to avoid humiliation, but Google's 21st century satellite view prevents Founders-friendly preachers from using the same tactics.

Don't be fooled by the floundering of The Founders. Read Brother Bob's article.


Bob to Charles:

I noticed on the Founders' blog, Charles, that Tom Ascol is decrying once again the Annual Church Profile (ACP) of the convention with which his church affiliates. This is not the first time Tom has remonstrated against making a report of baptisms, etc.

This, again, demonstrates the difference between Ascol's practice and Spurgeon's.

Spurgeon consistently made a monthly report of baptisms at the end of his Editorial "Notes" column in his magazine, The Sword and the Trowel..

Here is what Spurgeon had to say about statistics in his book on "The Soul Winner," pages 13, 14:

I am not among those who decry statistics, nor do I consider that they are productive of all manner of evil; for they do much good if they are accurate, and if men use them lawfully.

It is a good thing for people to see the nakedness of the land through statistics of decrease, that they may be driven on their knees before the Lord to seek prosperity; and, on the other hand, it is by no means an evil thing for workers to be encouraged by having some account of results set before them. I should be very sorry if the practice of adding up, and deducting, and giving in the net result were to be abandoned, for it must be right to know our numerical condition.

It has been noticed that those who object to the process are often brethren whose unsatisfactory reports should somewhat humiliate them: this is not always so, but it is suspiciously frequent.

I heard of the report of a church, the other day, in which the minister, who was well known to have reduced his congregation to nothing, somewhat cleverly wrote, "Our church is looking up." When he was questioned with regard to this statement, he replied, "Everybody knows that the church is on its back, and it cannot do anything else but look up."

When churches are looking up in that way, their pastors generally say that statistics are very delusive things, and that you cannot tabulate the work of the Spirit, and calculate the prosperity of a church by figures.

The fact is, you can reckon very correctly if the figures are honest, and if all circumstances are taken into consideration if there is no increase, you may calculate with considerable accuracy that there is not much being done; and if there is a clear decrease among a growing population, you may reckon that the prayers of the people and the preaching of the minister are not of the most powerful kind.

What is somewhat amusing about the Founders' blog is that, paradoxically, they were recently making a lot of grist out of a poll or survey of merely 413 Southern Baptist preachers on "Calvinism," as if it is of great significance.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Spurgeon and Finney vs. The Founders

Brother Bob Ross is probably the world's leading authority on the life and ministry of the famed London pastor, Charles H. Spurgeon. In this posting, Brother Bob reveals what Spurgeon thought of American evangelist Charles G. Finney.

Given the animosity that modern hybrid/hyper/neo Calvinists have toward Finney, The Founders may not like what Brother Bob has revealed.

Just be nice and don't tell them, OK? The truth hurts.



Bob to Charles:

There are a number of "strawmen" (or distorted images) which the Top Heavy Hybrid Calvinists use in their aberrant "system" of proselytism.

For example, they like to make a "whipping boy" out of Charles G. Finney (1792-1895) in regard to the use of public invitations, often alleging that Finney originated the use of public invitations.

We have shown on this blog that this was not the case, as for instance the item about the use of invitations as far back as in the case of 15-year old John L. Dagg in 1809 (AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF REV. JOHN L. DAGG, pages 9, 10), long before Finney even became a Christian. [See the Flyswatter at Sunday, May 07, 2006 9:16:55 PM, PUBLIC INVITATION USED IN 1809 DURING THE LIFE OF BAPTIST LEADER, J. L. DAGG].

While Finney's theology was -- to say the least -- "unorthodox" by Presbyterian standards, he was nevertheless instrumental in his evangelism to awakening thousands of the 19th century Presbyterians -- who had been baptized as babies on the pretext of being regenerate "elect covenant children" -- to their unsaved condition, and large numbers made professions of faith in Christ.

In contrast to the "strawman" which the Hybrids have created about Finney, I want to call attention to the evaluation of the late evangelist by C. H. Spurgeon -- which illustrates another difference between Hybrids such as the Founders and Spurgeon:


From: The Sword and the Trowel, 1884, page 439:

"Notices of Books"

Charles G. Finney: an Autobiography.
London: Hodder and Stoughton.

Among the prominent Evangelists of the present century, the name of Mr. Finney, the President of Oberlin College, in America, occupied a foremost place. Trained for the bar, he showed much of the close grip of the lawyer in his preaching. He was emphatically a preacher to conscience, and many will remember the searching appeals with which he drove home upon men the conviction of their accountability to God. He died in 1875, at the age of 83, having, according to his light, served his God and his generation right faithfully. This is an interesting and inspiring autobiography. We do not often agree with Mr. Finney's theology, but that is not the question now before us.

The following by Spurgeon on Finney is from Spurgeon's Lectures to My Students, Second Series, "On Conversion As Our Aim," page 185:

I am not an admirer of the peculiar views of Mr. Finney, but I have no doubt that he was useful to many; and his power lay in his use of clear arguments. Many who knew his fame were greatly disappointed at first hearing him, because he used few beauties of speech and was as calm and dry as a book of Euclid; but he was exactly adapted to a certain order of minds, and they were convinced and convicted by his forcible reasoning.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Bob's Comment:

Many of the "Reformed" Baptists and Presbyterians of our time often write about Charles G. Finney as if he were something on the order of the "Armourbearer of the Antichrist." During Finney's day, a stringent form of ultra "Calvinism" was so dominant that evangelism and soul-winning were just about "dead" in Finney's area of the country. The "baby baptizers" were promoting the delusion of the early "regeneration" of babies which were born to Christians, and consequently the pedo churches were filled with members who were allegedly "covenant children" and had received "regeneration" in early infancy before they were believers in Christ -- such as taught in the "Reformed" theologians such as Shedd, Berkhof, Frame, and their disciples.

Finney, himself a Presbyterian, recognized the "dead" spiritual state of the pedo churches, and his evangelistic approach so "shook up" the pedos that multitudes of them were aroused with concern for their lost condition, and so a great number made professions of faith in Christ under Finney's preaching.

Finney has since been excoriated by various pedo and "Reformed" theologians, including the allegation that he was the creator of "the invitation system," which is far from the truth. He was several years into his evangelistic ministry before he even started using -- at Rochester in 1830 -- what began to be called "the anxious seat," where people under conviction would come forward and be seated for prayer and instruction.

Finney said, "A few days after the conversion of Mrs. M________, I made a call, I think for the first time, upon all that class of persons whose convictions were so ripe that they were willing to renounce their sins and give themselves to God, to come forward to certain seats which I requested to be vacated, and offer themselves up to God, while we made them subjects of prayer." (Autobiography, page 289).

Like Spurgeon, I am not an admirer of the theoretical theological views set forth in Finney's "Lectures on Systematic Theology," but his evangelistic methods are not deserving of all the unjust characterizations with which we frequently meet in critiques by some "Reformed" writers.
As for his methods, they did not differ greatly from Mr. Spurgeon's own after-service methods and Spurgeon's use of what was called "the inquiry room."

In Spurgeon's "Lectures to My Students," he says:

Show them their danger, and warn them to escape from the wrath to come. This done, we must return to invitation, and set before the awakened mind the rich provisions of infinite grace which are freely presented to the sons of men. In our Master’s name we must give the invitation, crying, “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”

Do not be deterred from this, my brethren, by those ultra-Calvinistic theologians who say, “You may instruct and warn the ungodly, but you must not invite or entreat them.”

And why not? “Because they are dead sinners, and it is therefore absurd to invite them, since they cannot come.”

Wherefore then may we warn or instruct them? The argument is so strong, if it be strong at all, that it sweeps away all modes of appeal to sinners, and they alone are logical who, after they have preached to the saints, sit down and say, “The election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.” . . . . .

Let the two methods be set side by side as to practical result, and it will be seen that those who never exhort sinners are seldom winners of souls to any great extent, but they maintain their churches by converts from other systems [I. e. proselytism].

I have even heard them say, “Oh, yes, the Methodists and Revivalists are beating the hedges, but we shall catch many of the birds.”

If I harbored such a mean thought I should be ashamed to express it. A system which cannot touch the outside world, but must leave arousing and converting work to others, whom it judges to be unsound, writes its own condemnation. . . .

Do not close a single sermon without addressing the ungodly, . . . aim distinctly at immediate conversions;ain  . . . speak personally both with the concerned and the unconcerned, and be yourself doubly upon the watch to address individuals.. . . . again and again remind them that every true gospel sermon leaves them worse if it does not make them better. Their unbelief is a daily, hourly sin; never let them infer from your teaching that they are to be pitied for continuing to make God a liar by rejecting his Son. . . . .

In addition to this, hold numerous inquirers’ meetings, at which the addresses shall be all intended to assist the troubled and guide the perplexed, and with these intermingle fervent prayers for the individuals present, and short testimonies from recent converts and others.
As an open confession of Christ is continually mentioned in connection with saving faith, it is your wisdom to make it easy for believers who are as yet following Jesus by night to come forward and avow their allegiance to him. [From Lectures to My Students, Second Series, pages 186, 187, 190].

In the light of what Spurgeon says here, is it any wonder that he said, "I have been treated somewhat severely by that class of brethren who are exceedingly strong in their Calvinism. Many suspect me of being a great heretic. . . . .The Calvinism of some men is not the Calvinism of John Calvin, nor the Calvinism of the Puritans, much less the Christianity of God." (New Park Street Pulpit, Volume 5, page 368).

Friday, September 08, 2006

Jerry Grace on The Founders

Over at SBC Outhouse, Brother Jerry Grace has some thoughts on The Founders.

The problem with Founders Calvinists is they cannot permit any tolerance for us at the same time they demand tolerance and inclusion from us. I am happy for you if you are a Calvinist and practice your Christianity in that format. But I have a real problem if your Calvinism turns into a device designed to exclude and capture territory of your “enemies”. That’s what I hear amid all the rhetoric from the Founders; their enemies are the rest of the Southern Baptist Convention; their desired territory is our existing churches.

"Their desired territory is our existing churches." I believe Brother Jerry is right. Most of the "you have to be born again before you believe" Reformed Calvinists don't seem to place a high value on evangelism, in my opinion. Their growth comes from proselyting. This puts them at odds with the overwhelming majority of churches in the Southern Baptist Convention and also historically with Baptists such as Charles H. Spurgeon.


Did Al Mohler verbally slap James White and Tom Ascol?

Without mentioning their names, did Dr. Al Mohler verbally slap "Dr." James White and Dr. Tom Ascol at the 2006 Southern Baptist Convention?

On June 12, Al Mohler told Southern Baptist Convention attendees at a breakout session, “It is not healthy to have a person who will drive across the state to debate Calvinism but won't even drive across the street to share the Gospel.”

At the time of Mohler’s statement, a debate at Liberty University in Virginia had been announced between the Caner brothers on one side and James White and Tom Ascol on the other.

Ascol lives in Florida. For him to travel to Virginia is not only traveling “across the state” but across Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia as well!

White lives in Arizona. His love for debating is so blatant that he even discusses his debates as a Sunday school lesson! For White to travel "as the crow flies" to Lynchburg, Virginia, he would have to cross New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Kentucky, and Virginia!

Only Dr. Mohler knows what he was referring to when he said, “It is not healthy to have a person who will drive across the state to debate Calvinism,” but surely he knew about the Lynchburg debate, which at the time he spoke had been publicized and discussed all over the Reformed Calvinist blogosphere.

Did Mohler give White and Ascol a verbal backhand? Was Mohler hinting that these men would rather debate Calvinism than share the gospel? Who knows? But if not, what else was on his mind?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Children: Mark Dever vs. Charles Spurgeon, part 3

Thanks to Brother Bob Ross for posting this today.



In his sermon, "Children Brought to Christ, Not to the Font," Spurgeon refers to "children of two or three years of age" as rejoicing in knowing Christ as Saviour (Vol. 10, page 422, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit).

Also, in the sermon entitled, "Open Heart for the Great Saviour," Spurgeon said of faith in Christ, "It is so simple, that children of three and four years of age have doubtless been capable of it; and there have been many persons, but very little removed from absolute idiocy, who have been able to believe" (Vol. 11, page 19, MTP).

In the little book, "Come Ye Children," Spurgeon remarks, "Many dear children are called of God so early, that they cannot precisely tell when they were converted; but they were converted: they must at some time or other have passed from death to life" (page 63).

We know from the record of Spurgeon's ministry and his Orphan Homes for boys and girls that the Metropolitan Tabernacle always had a large number of children in the congregation, and he welcomed their conversions, confessions, baptisms, and membership in the church.

Special evangelistic services for children were even held by Spurgeon's own Tabernacle Evangelistic Association under W. Y. Fullerton and J. Manton Smith, as often reported in Spurgeon's magazine, The Sword and the Trowel.

"The holy scripture may be learned by children as soon as they are capable of understanding anything," said Spurgeon; "Give us the first seven years of a child, with God's grace, and we may defy the world, the flesh, and the devil to ruin that immortal soul" (Vol. 31, page 579, MTP).

In the sermon "Jesus and the Children," Spurgeon said:

"I could spend the whole morning in giving details of young children whom I have personally conversed with, some of them very young children indeed. I will say broadly that I have more confidence in the spiritual life of the children that I have received into this church than I have in the spiritual condition of the adults thus received. I will even go further than that, and say that I have usually found a clearer knowledge of the gospel and a warmer love to Christ in the child-converts than in the man converts. I will even astonish you still more by saying that I have sometimes met with a deeper spiritual experience in children of ten and twelve than I have in certain persons of fifty and sixty" (Vol. 32, page 570).

One of the most outstanding sermons dealing with child conversion is entitled, "The Children and Their Hosannas," preached in 1884 (MTP, Vol. 30, page 325-336). Spurgeon said:

"There are still among us those who hardly think that children can be truly converted. They put on their magnifying glasses when there is a child before the church, and they look hard for a flaw in its character! they put the child under a microscope and examine him much more particularly than they would a person of adult years. When the child is received into the church, it is with a kind of feeling that only the generous spirit of Christianity would enable us to be so wonderfully condescending, and so purely unselfish; for of course such young people cannot add much to the church, and it is by no means an occasion for killing the fatted calf, and beginning to eat and be mercy. That spirit still lingers among as: I wish we could exterminate it! . . . . .

"I am sure that children are capable of that early grace with which true religion usually begins, namely, that of deep repentance. Have you never heard the sobs and cries of little ones when they have been convinced of sin? I have almost wondered when I have seen their pure dives, and yet have marked their solemn sense of guilt. . . .

"I cannot help remembering how the Lord dealt with me as a child. If ever any lad knew the guilt of sin, I did. I was tenderly cared for, and kept from all sorts of evil company, yet the great deeps within my nature were broken up, and rose in vast waves of sin and rebellion against God, and I was amazed at my own sinfulness. I have met with scores of persons, converted in riper years, who, I am sure, never felt a hundredth part of what I felt as a child when I was under the hand of God’s Spirit. I experienced a thorough loathing of myself, because I had not lived to God and loved and served him as he deserved. I speak upon this point what I do know, and testify what I have seen and felt in myself. Grief for sin and a holy dread of the consequences can be felt by children quite as well as by their seniors. In many children whom I have known, repentance has been true, thorough, deep, intelligent, and lasting: they have found their way to the foot of the cross, and seen the great sacrifice, and have wept all the more to think that they should have offended against the love which so freely forgives. . . . .

"As to faith, I am sure that no one who has seen converted children will ever doubt their capacity for faith. In the hand of God’s Spirit, a child’s capacity for faith is in some respects greater than that of a grown-up person; at any rate, the faith of children is usually far more simple than that of adults. They take the word of God as they find it, and they believe it to be the very truth. They read it fairly, and they do not put glosses thereon, or degrade it with interpretations gathered from the schools or from the current philosophies. God’s book means to them just what it says. No undertone of doubt mars the music of the promises, but they accept the word as it ought to be accepted — as the sure testimony of God’s mouth. They believe, and have little unbelief to struggle with: they believe and are sure, and, therefore, theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

"You must have noticed how vivid their faith is. The gospel is all fact to them, and they seem to see it before their eyes. They feel it and believe it, and in their childlike way they act upon it. They expect great things, and look for them in everyday life. They sometimes look for them in a shape in which they will never see them; but still that is much better than never to expect at all, and so to miss seeing the glory of God.

"Jesus is to children no mere character in history; he is with them, and their eye beholds him. The Master’s word is to them what he meant it to be; and they expect to realize it and to see it fulfilled in their own experience: hence some holy children are far in advance of us poor questioners, who are cracking the nut while the little ones have eaten the kernel.

"And how effective their faith is! Have you never known a child in whose holy life you have seen the reality of his faith? He was a child — God forbid that he should be otherwise — but he was a holy child. For a boy to put on the air and manners of a man is not sanctification; that is to spoil him, not to sanctify him. And for a girl to be other than a girl, and to assume the air and tone of her careful mother, should be very mischievous.

"God does not sanctify children into men, but he sanctifies children in their own childlike way. I have noticed especially the struggles of some children with whom it has been my great joy to converse. They have been to school, and they have met there with almost the same temptations which you encounter in business, on the market, or in the Stock Exchange, only the temptations have been adapted to their state, according to the subtlety of the evil one who knows how to fit his snares to the birds he would entrap.

"Converted children have a horror of wickedness. A bad word that they have heard has made them sob themselves to sleep. They have been disturbed by the look of sin, and some wicked thing that has been said about the divine Lord has cut them to the quick. They have not acted quite rightly, they have felt it, and they have not again been easy till they have mentioned it to mother or father, or perhaps to their teacher, and obtained a sense of forgiveness. The dear ones wanted to be clear with everybody, that they might not seem to be better than they were.

"Oh, the sweet simplicity of childhood! The dear child has said, 'Jesus has forgiven me, I know. I stole away into a corner, and I told him that I had done wrong, but that I did love him; and I believe that he has even now blotted out my sin. I hope that I shall not do wrong again. Pray for me that I may be kept right, and may be pure and good, like the holy child Jesus.'

"Does anybody here despise such desires in a child? If so, my friend, as far as it is right to do so, and perhaps a little farther, I despise you. I cannot help it, for there seems to me something so beautiful in youthful faith that you might as well sneer at a lily for its purity as despise a child for his artlessless. Children may teach some of us how to believe in God. I am sure they may put us all to shame by their unfeigned confidence in the result of prayer. I have smiled at the story of the child who went to a prayer-meeting, which was summoned that they might pray for rain, and took her umbrella with her.

"Ah, but that is, the marrow of true prayer. We pray, but we do not take our umbrellas, yet it is the essence of faith to expect to be heard and to be prepared to be answered. Children often remind us that faith is not to be a show thing, a theme for pious talk, a source of gracious emotion, but a matter-of-fact force, operating upon the ordinary concerns of everyday life.

"I am sure that I am not wrong when I say that children are capable of repentance and of a very high degree of faith. . . . .

"What would you think if I introduced six children to you whom I saw one after another last week, and who all came forward with eagerness to say, ' We have been washed in the blood of Jesus, and we want to join his church.'

"I said, 'Come along, my children; I am glad to see you.' When I talked with them, and heard what God had done for them, I had great confidence in proposing them to the church. I have not found young converts turn back. I usually find that these young ones who are introduced early to the church hold on, and become our best members. Do not refuse to receive them, lest it should ever happen to you as it did to one who was cruelly prudent.

"A child had loved the Savior for some two or three years, and she desired to make a confession of her faith. She begged of her mother that she might be baptized. The mother said that she thought she was too young. The child went to bed broken-hearted, and in the morning a great tear stood in her eye. She had joined the church triumphant above!

"Do not let your child ever have to complain of you that you will not believe in its truthful love to Jesus. Do you expect perfection in a child before it joins the church? Then I hope you are perfect yourself, and, if you are, pray go to heaven, because I am sure you will fall to quarrelling with everybody here on earth. Few of the perfect people are agreeable neighbors; I suppose they are so good that they have no patience with us who are not lip to their standard.

"No, dear friend, a converted child will give you evidences of true religion, not of perfect religion, for that you ought not to expect. Let the child avow its faith in Christ, and, if you have not confessed him yourself, stand rebuked that a child is ready to obey its Lord while you are not. . . ."

From: The Children and Their Hosannas (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, No. 1785, Volume 30, Year 1884). A Sermon delivered on Wednesday evening, May 7, 1884, by C. H. Spurgeon, at Union Chapel, Islington. By request of the Sunday School Union. Text: — Matthew 21:15, 16.


Published by Pilgrim Publications

Come Ye Children

Teaching Children

Jesus and the Children

Children Brought to Christ, Not to the Font

Infant Salvation